We seek to understand how birds use the habitats available and how that will change as we work to create more diverse plant communities. We also host researchers that document migrations of raptors and songbirds across MPG.
In this section of the research pages, you will find links to reports and updates from all the researchers involved with avian ecology, posted chronologically. The links will show you more in-depth reports on our findings. The three main projects covered here are:
Songbird Counts- A grid of sampling points covers MPG with 560 points. We visit each point 3 times a year, once in winter and twice during the songbird breeding season. We record, by ear or by sight, all the birds near that point for 10 minutes.
Songbird Banding- The University of Montana Bird Ecology Lab, UMBEL, runs several trapping stations at MPG as part of their regional songbird monitoring program. UMBEL sets up very fine nets that are nearly invisible to birds in brushy habitats. Songbirds fly into the nets and become entangled. The researchers take the birds from the nets and affix a numbered band to their leg before releasing them.
Raptor Research- The Raptor View Research Institute monitors raptor populations on MPG and counts raptors that migrate past MPG in the spring and fall. Raptor View researchers have placed transmitters on osprey and golden eagles that use the Bitterroot Valley.
Fall raptor surveys began on September 5th. Raptor View Research hired two additional observers this year, Daniel Harrington, and Cherin Chapman. Despite smoky conditions, the count was exciting this week. We had a big migrant push on the 11th, with 99 birds. 32 of those were American Kestrels!
First sightings of the fall migration include: broad-winged hawk, golden eagle, peregrine and prairie falcon. We now have data on the Hawkcount website, a project of the Hawk Migration Association of North America. You can find monthly, daily, and hourly summaries at this link:
There is a new banding station on Baldy. Raptor View Research built a collapsible blind that sits under a large ponderosa at the top of Baldy Draw, just east of the observation ridge. Birds that funnel up the main draw, or fly along Baldy, will be on a good line for the banding station. This year William Blake and Adam Shreading will head up this operation.
Adam holds an adult red-tailed hawk in front of the new blind.
Eric received a B.S. in Resource Conservation from the University of Montana in 2000, and soon after volunteered for his first bird research job in the arctic tundra of Alaska. Afterwards he worked for nine years, mostly in western Montana, on bird-related research projects for the U.S. Forest Service.
In 2010, Eric was hired by MPG Ranch as the Bird Research Technician and now conducts breeding bird surveys, raptor migration surveys, and winter bird surveys, as well as participating in other ranch projects such as owl and raptor banding and community field trips. In his free time, Eric enjoys searching for wild mushrooms, playing ultimate Frisbee, and backcountry skiing.